This article will discuss an example of bad publicity. You will read about a 3D printing company that has been the target of this negative publicity type.
Although it is not an isolated incident, we hope this story will shed some light.
‘This (graphic) case, covered in the NYT on July 18, 2013, is a great example of how poorly you get treated as an unlicensed 3D printer and the associated noise issues.
The NY Times has a picture of the product, I’ve redacted the name of the 3D printer, but it is clear that it is a low-end printer of a variety of different printers. The story was meant to show the community of people using this technology and the types of problems.
The problem is that one of the affected people is not a 3D printer expert and was not aware of the importance of this issue. He contacted the printer manufacturer about the problems, which he didn’t know how to do without a manufacturer’s warranty.
The printer manufacturer responded with “something went wrong” and “no problem.”
The entire story was meant to expose this issue, but one of the people being interviewed is a designer who had problems with the manufacturer but was happy to “go with what he had” because the printer was cheap. So he ended up with the printer in the picture – it was returned to the manufacturer because of the issues.
Unfortunately, the manufacturer printed and sold those models for another person as they didn’t want to take responsibility for this defective model.
If the printer manufacturer had been honest with this designer about their product's reliability, he would have bought a printer that had the reliability he was looking for. It would have saved him a great deal of time and the cost of returning the product instead of having to be stuck with a machine that no one could use for several months.
Bad PR is generally a case of lack of awareness of your actions' legal implications and the consequences of using technology you aren’t aware of. It’s not nice to be the victim of this type of problem, but I hope you can learn from it and avoid it in the future.’ – 3ders.org
3D printing is one of the hottest new consumer technologies of our time. There is no doubt that 3D printers make life easier for thousands of consumers, from engineers to hobbyists.
However, the term ‘consumer’ is not a clear term when discussing 3D printers due to the number of companies producing 3D printers.
3D printing components have to be stamped out by a 3D printer, so companies like MakerBot and Stratasys are in an enviable position: they own and control the entire production process.
However, the same problem with the existing plastic injection method also applies to 3D printing components.
Under existing law, there is no regulation as to what can be used as a 3D printing component. If a 3D printer is being used to create a product sold to consumers, it will be treated in the same manner as any other product.
Because of this, the FDA has a significant amount of work to do. It is a legal grey area at the moment, as this article by DVICE shows:
“3D printers aren’t covered by FDA regulation because there isn’t a real consensus about what the machine actually does. So if a consumer buys a kit and then thinks it’s cool to make plastic weapons, there’s no law against it. “
There’s no FDA requirement,” Steve Jurvetson told Wired. “If you’re a plastic company, would you want to spend the time to apply for a new drug application?
The average consumer probably doesn’t care since it’s a little toy.” Jurvetson is a partner at Draper Fisher Jurvetson, a VC firm that has invested in 3D Systems and MakerBot, making popular home 3D printers.
Besides, MakerBot’s Thingiverse website sells objects that can be turned into guns. “The one thing that is sure to happen is some wacko gets a kid into this thing, and it becomes a gun,” one.
Michigan legislator told Wired.
The legislation, which is meant to clarify the law and keep guns out of the hands of 3D gun enthusiasts, has been unanimously approved by the House of Representatives and awaits the Senate’s approval.
A coalition of organizations, including the New York State Department of Financial Services, the New York State Rifle and Pistol Association, and the National Shooting Sports Foundation, wrote the letter urging the Senate to pass the bill.
The coalition is concerned about the unregulated creation of small weapons made from 3D printers and said the legislation is needed to ensure the safety of the public and reduce the ability of untrained people to make guns using inexpensive 3D printers illegally.” – DVICE.com
Given the severity of the risk involved, it is surprising that there is no legal regulation to which companies selling 3D printers can adhere. Even though 3D printing is an industry in its infancy, the potential for life-changing technological advances is certainly worth the trouble that has arisen due to the wide-ranging legal issues surrounding 3D printing.
The fact that governments worldwide seem to be taking no notice and are either ignoring or have failed to update their legislation surrounding 3D printing is clearly worrying for manufacturers and consumers alike.
As we discussed in a previous article on the threat of DIY Weaponry, the prospect of 3D-printed guns is troubling for gun controllers and activists. A person printing a gun is likely to be different from a person manufacturing 3D-printed components.
However, it is a new technology that has spawned a great deal of controversy as a result. 3D printed components seem to be in much less danger of falling into the hands of criminals, terrorists, or other rogue groups.
It is only the creation of an entire gun that is a concern for those interested in making a difference.
The point of using 3D printers to produce objects is not to create a functioning, working gun. We are using the technology to produce tools, complex models, and objects, not firearm components.
As the Department of Homeland Security points out: “Weapons, including those printed using plastic 3D printers, would be more like conventional firearms — bullets and casings — which could be transported without difficulty through airport security checkpoints.”